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August 17, 2019
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We have the scale to take on Disney and Netflix

We have the scale to take on Disney and Netflix

Bob Bakish, the head of a newly combined CBS and Viacom, said the company has the scale to take on media rivals.

In an interview with CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, Bakish cited ViacomCBS’s content library, which includes 140,000 TV episodes, 36,000 films and 750 series, as enough ammo to fight the likes of Netflix, Disney, Comcast and others entering the TV streaming wars.

The comments come after CBS and Viacom announced Tuesday an agreement to merge, reuniting the two companies after 13 years apart and several attempts at a deal since 2016. The new company will be called ViacomCBS and Bakish will lead the combined entity.

“It really has almost unmatched scale on the content side,” Bakish said. “We clearly have scale in content. There’s no question the companies are clearly stronger together than they are independently.”

Still, Viacom and CBS, which are valued at $11.8 billion and $18.2 billion respectively, are dwarfed by Disney, which is worth $246.8 billion, and Netflix, which has a market cap of $136.7 billion.

With the merger announced, investors’ attention has turned to whether or not ViacomCBS will pursue additional deals in an effort to further beef up its competitive edge. Bakish said M&A could serve as a “vehicle” to increase its scale, adding that the company is looking at its options moving forward.

“It’s early days, we’re just getting started,” Bakish said.

“[CBS and Viacom] came apart at a different time in media, with different circumstances around it,” Bakish said. “Putting them together today is the right move.”

The acquisition, which is expected to close by year’s end, creates a combined company with more than $28 billion in revenue.

CBS stands to gain the movie studio Paramount Pictures, cable networks including Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and BET, as well as the streaming service Pluto TV and South Park Studios as a result of a merger with Viacom. CBS owns the legacy broadcast network, in addition to other cable and media properties.

Once the merger is complete, it’s possible that the combined companies may look to acquire another company, such as Discovery, Starz or Sony, among others. Lions Gate, the parent company of Starz, has previously held talks with CBS about offloading the premium entertainment network.

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.


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